Thursday, July 10, 2014

Carbon Offsetting: Who Wins? Who Loses?

World Bank and UN REDD programme behind genocidal land grabs
Between 2000 and 2010, a total of 500 million acres of land in Asia, Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean was acquired or negotiated under deals brokered on behalf of foreign governments or transnational corporations.
Many such deals are geared toward growing crops or biofuels for export to richer, developed countries – with the consequence that small-holder farmers are displaced from their land and lose their livelihood while local communities go hungry.
The concentration of ownership of the world's farmland in the hands of powerful investors and corporations is rapidly accelerating, driven by resource scarcity and, thus, rising prices. According to a new report by the US land rights organisation Grain: "The powerful demands of food and energy industries are shifting farmland and water away from direct local food production to the production of commodities for industrial processing."
Less known factors, however, include 'conservation' and 'carbon offsetting.'

A damning new report from the Rights and Resources Initiative (RRI) based in Washington DC warns that the UN and World Bank approach to REDD is paving the way for large-scale "carbon grabs" by foreign governments and investors, putting at risk the land rights, livelihoods and lives of indigenous communities.
The report surveyed 23 low and middle income countries in Latin America, Asia, and Africa, covering 66 percent of the developing world's forests, concluding that REDD had not established laws or mechanisms by which indigenous peoples and local communities could profit from the carbon in the forests they inhabited.
"Their rights to their forests may be few and far between, but their rights to the carbon in the forests are non-existent", said Arvind Khare, RRI executive director.
At the United Nations climate negotiations in Warsaw in November 2013, delegates reached an agreement that would allow REDD to move forward which, however, excluded questions around who should control and benefit from the new carbon value found in standing forests.
Instead, the World Bank Carbon Fund's approach to defining carbon rights has been widely criticised by civil society groups for creating conflict between new property rights to carbon, and existing statutory and customarily held rights of local communities. The lack of clear safeguards and measures opens up an unprecedented opportunity for corporate and government land grabbing.

Read more here and specifically about Kenya's experiences of land grab.

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